GFT Facts & Stats Friday: NASCAR Cup Series Championship race at Phoenix Raceway

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle
21 min readNov 3, 2023

3 November 2023
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News

AVONDALE, AZ — It’s our FINAL edition of “GFT Facts and Stats Friday” for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season. This column leverages GFT content and our GFT NASCAR AI Driver Rankings along with content from NASCAR WIRE SERVICE so we are providing you the very latest and accurate data, statistics, predictions, and breaking news from the garage and pit road.

Phoneix Raceway as viewed from Rattlesnake Hill (Image Credit: phoenixraceway.com)

GFT AI Driver Predictions

(INITIAL Prediction, pre- practice and qualifying)

Kyle Larson Holds P1 Ranking and is the GFT AI Predictive Model pic to win the NASCAR Cup Series Championship on Sunday.

** The GFT Predictive Model algorithm will run again Friday night after Practice and again Saturday after Qualifying.

How accurate is the GFT Predictive Model? Glad you asked!

On Friday October 26th, the Go Full Throttle NASCAR AI Prediction Models crunched the data and predicted Byron and Blaney would be the two drivers to earn their way into the Championship 4 after Homestead (joining Larson and Bell).

Facts and Stats for Championship Weekend at Phoenix Raceway

NASCAR Cup Series Championship
Phoenix Raceway
Sunday, November 5
3 p.m. ET

The Purse: $11,143,232
TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 312 miles (312 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 185), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 312)

Track Facts

Track Length: 1-Mile
Race Length: 500 Kilometers/312 miles (312 laps)
Grandstand Seating Capacity: 50,000
First Race: Nov. 6, 1988 — Checker 500
Banking in Turns 1 and 2: 11 degrees
Banking in Turns 3 and 4: 9 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 3 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 9 degrees
Frontstretch: 1,179 feet
Backstretch: 1,551 feet

Qualifying & Race Records

Qualifying: Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 143.158 mph (25.147 sec.); Nov. 13, 2015
Race: Tony Stewart, Pontiac, 118.132 mph (2:38:28); Nov. 7, 1999

Track Records

Most Wins: 9 — Kevin Harvick
Most Poles: 4 — Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch
Most Top Fives: 19 — Kevin Harvick
Most Top 10s: 29 — Kevin Harvick

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 Drivers (In Alphabetical Order)

Long days and nights over the course of the season have added up, and now the four best drivers of the year will do battle this weekend as the Championship 4 vie for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series title in the Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway, this Sunday, November 5 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

The stage is set for Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell, and Hendrick Motorsport’s teammates Kyle Larson and William Byron to contend for this year’s title, and the prestigious Bill France Cup trophy, which will be awarded to the highest finishing driver of the four competitors at Phoenix Raceway. Larson (2021) is the only former Cup champion of the four — with Blaney, Bell and Byron looking for their first career titles this season.

Here’s an in-depth look at the Championship 4 Round contenders heading into this action-packed Championship Week in Phoenix: (Drivers are listed in alphabetical order.)

Christopher Bell (№20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

Bell By The Numbers:

2 — Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Championship 4 Round (2023, ‘22)

2 — Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins during the 2023 season

4 — Number of career top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway

4 — Number of stage wins during the 2023 season

6 — Number of NASCAR Cup Series career total wins

5.6 — Average starting position during the first nine races of the 2023 Playoffs

8.6 — Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2023 Playoffs

9.5 — Average starting position for the first 35 races of the 2023 season

10 — Number of top-five finishes during the 2023 season

10.0 — Average starting position at Phoenix Raceway

12.3 — Average finishing position for the first 35 races of the 2023 season

14.4 — Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway

16 — Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2023

19 — Number of top-10 finishes during the 2023 season

83.6 — Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway, fourth-best among Championship 4

92.0 — Season-to-date driver rating, fifth-best among active drivers in 2023

599 — Total number of laps led in the 2023 season (career-high in a single season)

8,760 — Total number of laps completed in the 2023 season (97.5%)

Ring That Bell: Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell seeks first career Cup title

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell joined the NASCAR Cup Series fulltime in 2020, and ever since the 2017 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series champion has been building momentum, and much like last season, he has become a force to be reckoned with in the Playoffs.

The 28-year-old, Bell, has competed in the NASCAR Cup Series for four full seasons, qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in three of them (2021, 2022, 2023). This season will mark the second-time the Oklahoman has earned a spot in the Championship 4 Round, and did so, by winning the Round of 8 at Homestead-Miami. Not only does Bell hold the record for fewest career starts in the series before making the Championship 4 at 107 starts (last season), but he is also the only driver in NASCAR national series history to make the Championship 4 Round in all three of NASCAR’s national series (NCS: 2022, 2023; NXS: 2018, 2019; NCTS: 2016, 2017). If Bell were to win the NASCAR Cup Series title this weekend, he would become the first NASCAR Cup Series driver from Oklahoma to win a championship.

In Bell’s first appearance in the Playoffs in 2021, he advanced to the Round of 12 but was eliminated from the postseason following an eighth-place finish at the Charlotte Roval. He ultimately finished the 2021 season 12th in the final championship standings.

Bell’s 2022 championship campaign was slow at the beginning of the season but following his win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to earn his spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, he found another gear. He would go on to work his way through the Playoffs winning in the Round of 12 (Charlotte ROVAL) and the Round of 8 (Martinsville) elimination races to advance to the Championship 4 Round for the first time in his career. At Phoenix, in the season finale, he started 17th and finished 10th in the race, ultimately landing in third in the final championship standings.

Bell proves to be one of the best in the Playoffs

The Joe Gibbs Racing rising star, Christopher Bell, won his way into the Championship 4 Round for the second consecutive season and now the 28-year-old is poised to go after his first career Cup title this weekend at Phoenix.

Bell shot out of the gate this Playoffs sitting on the pole for the first three races of the opening round. He put up a 23rd-place finish at Darlington Raceway, then finished eighth at Kansas and third at Bristol to advance to the Round of 12. He stayed consistent in the Round of 12, finishing fourth at Texas and 14th at Talladega. Heading to the elimination race of the Round of 12 at the Charlotte Road Course, he was third in points and earned his spot in the Round of 8 with a 15th-place finish. Once the Round of 8 started Bell turned up the wick on the competition, putting up a runner-up finish at Las Vegas, a win at Homestead-Miami to clinch his spot in the Championship 4 Round and a seventh-place finish at Martinsville to close out the Round of 8.

Bell’s previous performances at Phoenix Raceway

For the fourth time in NASCAR Cup Series history Phoenix Raceway will host the season finale race and set the stage for the Championship 4 to compete for the prestigious title. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell is the lone Toyota driver to make the Championship 4 and will look to bring home the Bill France Cup trophy on Sunday.

The one-mile Phoenix Raceway has been a challenge for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell in the NASCAR Cup Series, having made seven series starts at the one-mile track collecting four top 10s. His average finish at Phoenix is 14.0, fourth-best among the Championship 4.

Bell also ranks in the top-20 in several key pre-race Loop Data categories at Phoenix with an Average Running Position of 13.624, 12th-best in the series, a Driver Rating of 83.6, 13th-best and 1,279 Laps in the Top 15 (58.3%), 19th-most.

Earlier this season, Bell started fifth and finished sixth at Phoenix Raceway.

Ryan Blaney (№12 Team Penske Ford)

Blaney By The Numbers:

1 — Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4

3 — Number of NASCAR Cup Series wins in 2023

5.5 — Average starting position at Phoenix Raceway

6 — Number of stage wins during the 2022 season

6 — Number of top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway

7 — Number of top-five finishes in the first 35 races of 2023 season

10 — Number of top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway

10.3 — Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2023 Playoffs

11.9 — Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway

12.6 — Average starting position during the first 35 races of 2023 season

12.8 — Average starting position during the first nine races of the 2023 Playoffs

14 — Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2023

14.4 — Average finishing position during the 2023 season

17 — Number of top-10 finishes in the first 35 races of 2023 season

88.3 — Season-to-date driver rating — seventh-best among active drivers this season

98.2 — Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway — Best among Championship 4

429 — Total number of laps led at Phoenix Raceway

560 — Total number of laps led in the 2022 season

8,748 — Total number of laps completed in the 2023 season (97.3%)

Blaney in search of his first NASCAR Cup Series championship

This season, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney is the closest he has ever been to winning his first career NASCAR Cup Series championship. Coming to the end of his eighth full season in the series, Blaney’s previous best finish in the points was seventh — twice (2019 and 2021). Now after winning in the Playoffs’ Round of 8 elimination race at Martinsville Speedway to earn his spot in the Championship 4 Round for the first time in his career, the High Point, North Carolina native can see the gleam in the Bill France Cup Trophy and can almost grasp it.

Blaney started the 2023 season off fast with crew chief Jonathan Hassler grabbing his first win over the summer in the prestigious Coke 600 at Charlotte. He then moved into the points lead following the race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Gateway. He finished the regular season with one win, four top fives and 12 top 10s entering the 2023 Playoffs as the 12th seed with eight Playoffs points.

Blaney and the №12 team’s path to the season finale at Phoenix

Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney has been a staple in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs since 2017. He has qualified for the Playoffs in the last seven seasons (2023, ’22, ’21 ’20, ’19, ’18, ‘17), but this is the first time he has advanced to the Championship 4 Round.

In the Round of 16, №12 team and driver Ryan Blaney put up a ninth-place finish at Darlington but then finished 12th at Kansas and 22nd at Bristol just scrapping by to advance to the Round of 12. In the next round, Blaney finished 28th to open the Round of 12 at Texas, but then followed it up with a big victory at Talladega to lock himself into the Round of 8. He then would finish 12th at the Charlotte Road Course to close out the round. In the Round of 8 opener at Las Vegas he finished sixth, then went to Homestead-Miami and finished runner-up. Blaney earned his spot in the Championship 4 Round this season by winning at Martinsville Speedway in the Round of 8 elimination race.

Blaney’s time to shine in the Valley of the Sun

Of the four drivers vying for the NASCAR Cup Series title this weekend at Phoenix Raceway, the stats are pointing to Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney as being one of the best on the one-mile oval in the Valley of the Sun.

In total, Blaney has made 15 series starts at Phoenix posting six top fives and 10 top 10s. His average finish is 11.9, ninth-best in the series, and tied with Byron for second-best among the Championship 4.

Expect Blaney to be in the mix this weekend at Phoenix, he is ranked in the top-10 in several key pre-race Loop Data categories with an Average Running Position of 9.717, fourth-best, a Driver Rating of 98.2, sixth-best, 205 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best and 3,861 Laps in the Top 15 (82.1%), 10th-most.

Earlier this season at Phoenix, Blaney started eighth and finished runner-up.

Team Penske’s chance at a third title

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 Round is comprised of four drivers from three different organizations — Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske — making this season’s Championship Race one for the ages as Team Penske looks to become the ninth different organization to win consecutive driver championships in the series.

Team Penske was victorious in last season’s series finale taking home the Phoenix win and the title with driver Joey Logano. This year, the organization is hoping to do the same. Team Penske has a total of four wins at the one-mile Arizona track in the NASCAR Cup Series — Rusty Wallace (1998), Joey Logano (2016, 2020, 2022).

In total, Team Penske has nine NASCAR national series owner championships — three in the NASCAR Cup Series (2012, 2018, 2022) and six in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2020, 2021). Team Penske is currently tied with Herb Thomas Racing (1951, 1953, 1954) for the sixth most titles on the all-time list of organizations with championships in the NASCAR Cup Series at three each.

William Byron (№24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)

Byron By The Numbers:

1 — Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 (2023)

1 — Number of Cup Series wins at Phoenix Raceway

1 — Number of top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway

6 — Number of top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway

6 — Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins in 2023 (career-high)

6.3 — Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2023 Playoffs

8 — Number of stage wins during the 2023 season (tied with Larson for most)

11.2 — Average starting position during the first nine races of the 2023 Playoffs

11.2 — Average finishing position during the 2023 season

11.2 — Average starting position during the first 35 races of 2023 season

11.3 — Average starting position at Phoenix Raceway

11.9 — Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway

14 — Number of top-five finishes in the first 35 races of the 2023 season

20 — Number of top-10 finishes during the first 35 races of the 2023 season

41 — Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2023

91.5 — Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway — third-best among Championship 4

98.1 — Season-to-date driver rating — series-best among active drivers in 2023

921 — Total number of laps led in the 2023 season (career-high)

8,752 — Total number of laps completed in the 2023 season (97.4%)

Wins leader William Byron revels in opportunity at a Cup title

Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron heads to Phoenix Raceway this weekend looking to become the 36th different driver in NASCAR Cup Series history to win the championship and the sixth different driver to accomplish the feat for Hendrick Motorsports; joining Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson.

Of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 drivers, Byron and Ryan Blaney are making their final Playoff round debuts. The Charlotte, North Carolina native’s previous best finish in the NASCAR Cup Series final standings was sixth last season.

Over time William Byron has progressively improved in the NASCAR Cup Series and this season is a culmination of all his work to this point. In his rookie season in 2018, Byron failed to make the Playoffs and ultimately finished the year 23rd in the final standings. Though he didn’t make the postseason in his rookie year, he has made it every year since. In 2019, he made the Playoffs for the first time in his career but finished the season 11th in the points after being eliminated in the Round of 12. The next year, Byron won the regular season finale at Daytona to grab the final spot in the 2020 postseason. He would go on to finish the 2020 season 14th in the points after being eliminated from the Round of 16. In 2021, he again made the Playoffs but was eliminated in the Round of 12, and finished the year then a career-best 10th in points. Then last season, Byron made the Playoffs for the fourth consecutive season and earned a spot in the Round of 8 for the first time in his career. He would go on to finish the season a career-best sixth in the final championship standings.

William Byron is looking to cap off a career season

Willam Byron is having a career-year and not only because he made the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff’s Championship 4 Round for the first time, but also because he has racked up career-highs in almost every statistical category.

Byron got up to speed at Hendrick Motorsports fairly quickly this season winning in just his third race (Las Vegas) of the year. And once Byron found his groove, the successes just kept coming. In total he put up career-highs in wins (six), top-five (14) and top-10 (20) finishes this season, as well as a career-high in laps led at 921 laps out front.

Byron kicked the postseason’s Round of 16 off with a fourth-place finish at Darlington and then put up a 14th-place finish at Kansas and a ninth-place finish at Bristol to clinch a spot in the Round of 12. From there he kicked off the Round of 12 with a win at Texas and then followed it up with two runner-up finishes at Talladega and the Charlotte Roval to close out the round. Byron then hit the Round of 8 running, putting up finishes of seventh at Las Vegas and fourth at Homestead-Miami. Then in the elimination race at Martinsville Speedway, Byron held on to a 13th-place finish to score enough points to lock himself into the Championship 4 Round for the first-time in his career.

Byron’s career performance at Phoenix

If anyone is happy to see Phoenix Raceway as the destination for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race this season, it is Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron, who won their earlier this year.

Byron has made 11 starts at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, posting one win, one top-five and six top-10 finishes. His average finish at Phoenix is 11.9, tied with Blaney for second-best among the 2023 Championship 4.

Byron has quickly taken to the one-mile Phoenix track. He is ranked in the top-15 in several pre-race Loop Data categories at Phoenix with an Average Running Position of 10.694, sixth-best in the series, a Driver Rating of 91.5, 10th-best, 116 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best and 2,692 Laps in the Top 15 (78.2%), 13th-most.

Earlier this season at the one-mile track, he started third and won his first Cup race at Phoenix Raceway.

Adding to the historic legacy of Hendrick Motorsports

When it comes to winning titles in the NASCAR Cup Series, no organization does it better than Hendrick Motorsports with their series leading 14 championships among five different drivers — Kyle Larson (2021), Chase Elliott (2020), Jimmie Johnson (2016, ’13, ’10, ’09, ’08, ’07, ’06), NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (2001, ’98, ’97, ’95) and Terry Labonte (1996).

Overall Hendrick Motorsports has 17 NASCAR national series owner championships, the all-time record in NASCAR (14 in Cup and three in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series — 1997, 1999, 2001).

And to boot, Hendrick Motorsports was the first organization in the series history to win four straight, from 1995–98 (Jeff Gordon in 1995 and 1997–98; Terry Labonte 1996) and then upped their record in the series with five straight, from 2006–2010 (Jimmie Johnson). Hendrick Motorsports has won 14 of the last 28 NASCAR Cup Series championships (1995–2022), putting the team’s title-winning percentage during that span at 50.0% — series-best.

The 2023 season is the organization’s 38th straight season with a victory; longest-ever streak by a team in the series and its 39th season overall with a win; the most-ever by a team in the series. And to top all of that, the organization is the all-time wins leader in the NASCAR Cup Series with 301 total Cup wins.

The Hendrick Motorsports foursome of Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman put up 10 wins this season in the NASCAR Cup Series with two of the four making the Playoffs (Byron and Larson). Hendrick Motorsports has won at least one Playoff race in each of the 20 Playoff seasons (since 2004) for a combined 58 postseason wins, most all-time.

William Byron can add to the legacy of Hendrick Motorsports this weekend by winning the title and extending the organization’s record in series championships to 15 titles and becoming the sixth different driver to win a championship for the organization.

In total, 13 different organizations have won at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by Hendrick Motorsports with 13 victories among nine different drivers: Terry Labonte (1994), Kyle Busch (2005), Jeff Gordon (2007, 2011), Jimmie Johnson (2007, 2008 sweep, 2009), Mark Martin (2009), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2015), Chase Elliott (2020), Kyle Larson (2021) and William Byron (2023).

Kyle Larson (№5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)

Larson By The Numbers:

2 — Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 (2021)

4 — Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins in 2023

6.4 — Average starting position at Phoenix Raceway

7 — Number of top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway

8 — Number of stage wins during the 2023 season (tied with Byron for series-most in 2023)

10.5 — Average starting position during the first 35 races of 2023 season

11 — Number of top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway

11.7 — Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway

11.9 — Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2023 Playoffs

14 — Number of top-five finishes in the first 35 races of the 2023 season

15.0 — Average finishing position during the 2023 season

17 — Number of top-10 finishes during the first 35 races of the 2023 season

24 — Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2023

382 — Total number of laps led at Phoenix Raceway

96.4 — Season-to-date driver rating — third-best among active drivers

97.7 — Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway — seventh-best among active drivers

1,127 — Total number of laps led in the 2023 season

8,628 — Total number of laps completed in the 2023 season (96.0%)

Larson looks to become third active driver with NASCAR Cup Series multiple championships

Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson heads to Phoenix Raceway this weekend looking to become the 18th different driver in NASCAR Cup Series history and the third active driver (Joey Logano 2018, 2022; and Kyle Busch 2015, 2019) to win multiple championships in their career and the third different driver to accomplish the feat for Hendrick Motorsports; joining Jimmie Johnson (2016, ’13, ’10, ’09, ’08, ’07, ’06), and Jeff Gordon (2001, ’98, ’97, ’95).

Of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 drivers, Larson is the only one that has previously won a NASCAR Cup Series title (2021).

Larson, one of the most accomplished Dirt racers on the planet, graduated from the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program and immediately pounced on the NASCAR national series scene. In 2012, Larson signed Turner Scott Motorsports and made four starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series posting three top 10s; including a runner-up finish at Phoenix. He made the jump to fulltime racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series the next season (2013) with Turner Scott Motorsports posting nine top fives and 17 top 10s. He finished the season eighth in points. He also made his NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2013. He competed in four of the final six races of the season for Turner Scott Motorsports after it was announced he would drive the №42 Chevrolet full-time in 2014 for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ever since 2014, Larson has been scheduled to run fulltime in the NASCAR Cup Series. He spent almost seven full seasons with Chip Ganassi Racing putting up six wins with organization from 2014–2020. But in 2020, Chip Ganassi Racing released Larson just four races into the season following his suspension by NASCAR. Larson would sit out the remainder of the 2020 season. Following Larson fulfilling the requirements by NASCAR to lift his suspension, Hendrick Motorsports reached out to him to see if he wanted another shot. And as they say, the rest is history.

Hendrick Motorsports brought back the №5 team and paired crew chief Cliff Daniels with Larson for the 2021 season. Since joining the №5 team in 2021, the duo has put up a 16 victories working together.

Kyle Larson is looking to put the finishing touches on a strong season

Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson is having a strong season and not only because he made the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff’s Championship 4 Round for the second time in his career, but also because he has racked up a four victories on the season; including two during this postseason.

Larson got up to speed at Hendrick Motorsports fairly quickly this season winning the seventh race on the schedule at Richmond Raceway. Larson has rallied off four total victories this season (Richmond, Martinsville, Darlington and Las Vegas), 14 top fives and 17 top 10s. And to top it all off, Larson entered the 2023 Playoffs as the №6 seed with 17 Playoff points to his credit.

Larson kicked the postseason’s Round of 16 off with a win at Darlington and then a fourth-place finish at Kansas and a runner-up at Bristol to clinch a spot in the Round of 12. From there he finished 31st at Texas and then followed it up with 15th-place finish at Talladega. Larson then held on and finished 13th at the Charlotte Road Course to advance to the Round of 8. Once in the third round of the Playoffs he proceeded to win at Las Vegas and finish 34th at Homestead-Miami due to an incident and sixth at Martinsville to earn a spot in the Championship 4 Round for the second time in his career.

Larson’s performance at Phoenix

The only driver of this season’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 that has previously won a Playoff race at Phoenix Raceway is Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson (2021) and did so to secure his first championship in the series.

Larson has made 18 starts at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, posting one win (2021), seven top fives, and 11 top 10s. His average finish at Phoenix is a strong 11.7, sixth-best in the series and best among the Championship 4.

Larson is also near the top of the charts in several pre-race Loop Data categories at Phoenix with an Average Running Position of 10.709, seventh-best in the series, a Driver Rating of 97.7, seventh-best, 246 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best and 4,151 Laps in the Top 15 (74.8%), ninth-most.

Earlier this season at Phoenix, he started on the pole and finished fourth.

Crew Chief Corner: Cliff Daniels

Since making his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series as a Hendrick Motorsport’s crew chief in 2019, Cliff Daniels has shown that he is on the fast track to success in the sport. During his four seasons of full-time competition, Daniels has worked with three different drivers: Jimmie Johnson (2020), Justin Allgaier (2020) and Kyle Larson (2021–23). This weekend at Phoenix will mark his second appearance in the Championship 4, in his last appearance in the final round, he and Larson won the championship (2021).

The two will look to capture their second NASCAR Cup Series championship together this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. If they accomplish the feat, Daniels will become the 17th different crew chief in the series with multiple championships.

Adding his own chapter to the legacy of Hendrick Motorsports

When it comes to winning titles in the NASCAR Cup Series, no organization does it better than Hendrick Motorsports with their series leading 14 championships among five different drivers — Kyle Larson (2021), Chase Elliott (2020), Jimmie Johnson (2016, ’13, ’10, ’09, ’08, ’07, ’06), NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (2001, ’98, ’97, ’95) and Terry Labonte (1996).

Overall Hendrick Motorsports has 17 NASCAR national series owner championships, the all-time record in NASCAR (14 in Cup and three in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series — 1997, 1999, 2001).

And to boot, Hendrick Motorsports was the first organization in the series history to win four straight, from 1995–98 (Jeff Gordon in 1995 and 1997–98; Terry Labonte 1996) and then upped their record in the series with five straight, from 2006–2010 (Jimmie Johnson). Hendrick Motorsports has won 14 of the last 28 NASCAR Cup Series championships (1995–2022), putting the team’s title-winning percentage during that span at 50.0% — series-best.

The 2023 season is the organization’s 38th straight season with a victory; longest-ever streak by a team in the series and its 39th season overall with a win; the most-ever by a team in the series. And to top all of that, the organization is the all-time wins leader in the NASCAR Cup Series with 301 total Cup wins.

The Hendrick Motorsports foursome of Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman put up 10 wins this season in the NASCAR Cup Series with two of the four making the Playoffs (Byron and Larson). Hendrick Motorsports has won at least one Playoff race in each of the 20 Playoff seasons (since 2004) for a combined 58 postseason wins, most all-time.

This weekend Kyle Larson can add to the legacy of Hendrick Motorsports by winning his second title and extending the organization’s record in series championships to 15 titles and becoming the third different driver to win multiple championships for the organization; joining Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon.

In total, 13 different organizations have won at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by Hendrick Motorsports with 13 victories among nine different drivers: Terry Labonte (1994), Kyle Busch (2005), Jeff Gordon (2007, 2011), Jimmie Johnson (2007, 2008 sweep, 2009), Mark Martin (2009), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2015), Chase Elliott (2020), Kyle Larson (2021) and William Byron (2023).

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Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle

Go Full Throttle editors and reporters bring you news & commentary on NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, and World of Outlaws. Member: National Motorsports Press Association